In 2016 the New York Post, the most conservative daily in Gotham, declined to endorse either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president of the United States. It was a curious move given that the paper had endorsed Trump in the GOP primary. The likely reason for the non-endorsement in the general election was that Trump had not managed to moderate his tone, something that the Post warned about when picking Trump in the primary. In 2020, any reservation seems to be gone as the Post published a full-throated endorsement of the president on Monday (Full disclosure I am frequent columnist at the Post).
There are a lot of conservatives, myself included, who shared the Post’s reservations about Trump in 2016 but have now come around to, if not loving his personality exactly, and understanding that his presidency has resulted in remarkable wins not just for the right, but for the nation as a whole. The pitfalls we imagined, for the most part have not come to pass.
The Post’s endorsement focuses heavily on Trump’s free market, deregulatory approach to the economy that created enormous growth and low unemployment prior to the pandemic, and promises to again. But also foreign policy, keeping us out of war and fostering once unthinkable deals between Israel and Arab nations in the Middle East.
On the courts, Trump’s three appointments to the Supreme Court look to keep that venerable institution conservative for the foreseeable future, barring shenanigans like court packing from the Democrats. For the nearly half of all Americans who are pro-life, it is difficult to overstate just how important these justices are.
In the penultimate section of the full page endorsement (a picture of Trump suitable for framing adorns the facing page in the print edition), the Post does address its problems with Trump’s tone and tweeting. But ultimately they reason, correctly, that “actions matter more than words.”
That this is so difficult for some conservatives who stand against Trump to understand is perplexing, but it underscores something important. Most of the movement by conservatives who did not vote for Trump in 2016 is moving towards him, not farther away. The number of natural Republicans who stayed home or voted against Trump in 2016 are not only voting for him this year, but are doing so enthusiastically, is enormous no matter how many times MSNBC and CNN trot out the same handful of “conservatives” who still hate Trump.
The one thing that most conservatives who shied away from Trump in 2016 feared was that he would be an existential threat to the country, or at least could be given his lack of political experience. That just flat out hasn’t happened, like, at all. His detractors still claim it has, that he has somehow damaged the American experiment nearly beyond repair, but they have no specifics beyond his pugnacious tone to back any of that up. They simply will it into existence.
Let’s be honest, the choice to endorse Trump this time around was a slam-dunk for the New York Post as it is for many, many Americans. Their greatest fears regarding Trump did not come to pass, and their greatest hopes were far exceeded. This reflects the reality of the vast majority of right-leaning Americans. President Trump has for many of us been a welcome, sometimes wonderful surprise. He deserves this endorsement and the Post was right to give it.